South Korean president Lee Myung-bak has actively sought to raise South Korea’s profile and contributions to the international community by promoting the idea of a “Global Korea.” Under this framework, South Korea has proven itself a capable and congenial host for an array of international meetings, including the G20 in November of last year, the Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held last month, and the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit this coming March.
But South Korea has also found that hosting a meeting and shaping the international agenda are two different things. While last year’s G20 meeting was successful in initiating a reallocation of governance shares and contributions to international financial institutions, South Korea found itself in no position to broker compromises on “rebalancing” between the United States and China. Preparations for the Nuclear Security Summit have been equally challenging, given the Obama administration’s authorship and feelings of stewardship toward that process. Development specialist Sohn Hyuk-sang assesses South Korea’s impact and contributions to the international development agenda as the host of the fourth High Level Forum of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (Deputy Administrator of USAID Don Steinberg speaks to U.S. challenges in the aftermath of this forum here), finding that the inclusion of emerging new donors, while more representative, imposed costs to the depth of consensus among donors. His clear analysis of a rather murky outcome is a useful contribution to our understanding of what was accomplished in Busan.